Tag: shawls

Shearing Day and a Sneak Peek 10

Far and away, one of the best parts of living where we live now in Northeastern Tennessee is the huge fiber community. Yesterday, we got to help our friends Brad and Ruth Ann with shearing day. Their farm is called Two Roots Alpacas.

It was a beautiful day.

Here’s Ruth Ann providing a little moral support before shearing.

And here is Paul doing a little friendly herding afterwards.

These are some of the bags of fleece, set aside for processing later.

I spent the day drawing up injections but had plenty of breaks for knitting in between.

I’ll just note in passing that the “two roots” part of the name has to do with the vineyard that Brad and Ruth Ann run and that we were richly rewarded with amazing wine after all the work was done. You can see part of the vineyard here in the background.

And did I mention there was a baby?! Alpaca babies are called crias, and this one’s name is Storm. He was born last week during one of the recent bouts of crazy weather we’ve been having, and ooooh, my heavens! The CUTE!!!

It’s a busy week. Between work and the normal life things, there hasn’t been a ton of time for knitting, but I’ve always got something with me. This afternoon we’re going to be running errands, and I plan to work on a very special surprise project for my BFF. I don’t want to say too much, but here’s a sneak peek.

What are you up to this week? I’m loving all the shawls I’ve been seeing lately and am thinking there’s got to be a Find Your Fade in my future. I was resisting at first because there are so many other things I want to knit, but I’m pretty sure Marilyn’s slew of gorgeous Fades over at Yarn, Books & Roses has effectively decimated my resolve!

Checks & Balances 13

Talking sweaters today, not government.*

Paul’s Checks & Balances sweater is off the needles!


I wrote about the Good Fibrations yarn I used for this in an earlier post, and I simply cannot praise it enough. Knitting with it made me think back to one of the first sweaters I ever made.

That sweater was a cardigan, and the yarn I was using was a worsted tweed of some sort. The feel of it was full and soft and sturdy, all at the same time. It was like a lullaby in my hands, and it carried me off to a sweet, sweet place whenever I picked it up. Honestly, I think knitting with that yarn, all those years ago, is one of the reasons I became A Knitter. And this yarn is like that. Plus, it’s gorgeous.

The colorway is called “Soft Suede,” and it goes with just about every pair of pants Paul has.


One consideration when I was choosing a pattern was that the sweater needed to be sturdy and not prone to losing its shape. Paul is pretty hard on his clothes, and I wanted this to be something he could wear without having to worry about stretching it out or messing it up. I decided to go with a design knit in pieces and then seamed, hoping that the seaming would add a little more structure to the sweater than it might have otherwise, and that definitely turned out to be the case. He should be able to knock around in this day in and day out without any worries.



It makes my heart swell to think of my honey wearing the sweater I knit for him, with all the love and care that went into it holding him close. I don’t do a ton of knitting for other people, but every time I do, I’m reminded what a special gift a knitted thing is. The person who gets it and the knitter who knitted it both come away with so much.

I have one other random picture I’ve been meaning to show you–the Mystery KAL Shawl in the wild! A friend took this snapshot of us at a wedding recently. The shawl was perfect because the wedding was in the evening, and it was held outside. The temperature was in the seventies when we got there, but by the time dinner and dancing wrapped up, it was in the mid-fifties. I started out with the shawl over my arm, but by the end of the night, I was using it to keep me warm. Hooray for handknits in action!



*Just one thought–I loved this article on npr.org about working toward a fuller understanding of where others might be coming from by reading “the book that’s not for you.”



The Big Blue (Highly Wearable) Rectangle 12

So the big blue rectangle has become what I think is going to be a highly wearable, pretty blue poncho. Go figure!



Despite the monotony of knitting what felt like miles and miles of stockinette, I’m glad I decided to make this.

For one thing the Rowan Felted Tweed yarn is one of the nicer yarns I’ve used lately. This was the first time I’d knit with it, and it felt good in my hands, wasn’t at all splitty, and produced a lovely (soft and  dense without being heavy) fabric. I’m surprised that something so light has such great drape.

I’m also a little surprised at how polished the finished piece looks despite the pattern’s stone cold  simplicity.


As alexandknits says so well in her run-down of The Giant Blue Rectangle, blocking is key, and blocking wires are a must. So is getting the shoulder seam right. Do those things, and you’re home free.

I’ve been looking at patterns for Paul’s sweater. That’s going to be my next project. And I have to tell you that sleeves, collar, and a bit of shaping are sounding pretty good right about now. I’m happy to be  leaving the the endless stockinette behind. That said, I love that I have this versatile new addition to my wardrobe.

The Travel Shawl 4

Travel Shawl 2

I might be in love with the Travel Shawl.

Folded in half it’s a cozy shoulder wrap.

Travel Shawl 6adj

Opened up, it’s a bigger wrap.

Travel Shawl 3

Or even a small blanket.

Travel Shawl 1

And it’s a fairly quick knit. I knit all but a tiny bit of the beginning and the outer edge during a few weeks in November. 

Travel Shawl 4

This turned out to be a bigger deal than I expected in the discovery department. I’ve knit enough lace to feel like I’m not a total novice, but I hadn’t ever seen a set-up like this. The pattern directions tell you to cast on, give you instructions for an increase round, and then refer you to the first chart: “Begin pattern from Chart A; work Rnds 1-28 once . . .” etc. What you’re just supposed to know is that you have to knit the chart four times to accomplish one round. 

You’re also supposed to know what to do as your stitch count increases. I did not know. 

Thank goodness for Tin Can Knits. A bit of searching brought me to their super helpful explanation of how to read lace charts. It all makes perfect sense once you get the basic idea. You knit the first section of edge stitches for each quadrant and then knit the center, stitch-repeat section as many times as you can while still having enough stitches left to knit the edge stitches at the end. In their words: “. . . you would work the edge stitches one time, then work the ‘repeat’ stitches as many times as possible (always reading the set of instructions from right to left on right side rows), before ending with the edge stitches at the end of row.” Once I understood the logic, I was off and running.

Travel Shawl 7

As I do more lace shawl knitting, I think it’ll be interesting to see how many designers assume their audience knows these things about how lace charts work. In the heat of the moment, I felt a little grumpy about having to search for the information I needed to make sense of the pattern. Now that I have a little distance, I view it more as an interesting question than anything. What basic knowledge and skills should knitters be expected to bring to the average project? It’s absurd to think that every pattern would start from square one, but if a pattern doesn’t start there, then where? 

Travel Shawl 5

F is for . . . 2

Today’s post is brought to you by the letter “F”—as in, finished object, forests, and famous walkers.

Here’s the finished object.

Travel Shawl blocking

The Travel Shawl is off the needles! It was a great knit. I’ll say more about it later when I get some better photos, but the bottom line is that this was fun to work on and should be fun to wear. Here it is soaking.

Travel Shawl Soaking

And here it is on Rasta. I had to keep saying his name to get him to open his eyes. The shawl was like a sleeping potion. From the minute I put it over him, all he wanted to do was snuggle in and take a nap.

Rasta in Travel Shawl

Now I’m back to knitting Geek-A-Long squares. The current one is Sonic the Hedgehog. I’ll post a picture of it next time.

But moving on with the letter F, there was a shockingly wonderful article about forests in The New York Times yesterday. It’s about a German forest ranger named Peter Wohlleben who has written a book called The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate — Discoveries From a Secret World. Here’s the gist of it:

. . . trees in the forest are social beings. They can count, learn and remember; nurse sick neighbors; warn each other of danger by sending electrical signals across a fungal network known as the “Wood Wide Web”; and, for reasons unknown, keep the ancient stumps of long-felled companions alive for centuries by feeding them a sugar solution through their roots.

I thought the “Wood Wide Web” bit might be a joke, but it’s not. It’s the popular name for what scientists call the mycorrhizal network, a web of fungal connections that links trees beneath the soil. This makes so much sense to me. I can’t wait to learn more. An English translation of the book is scheduled to be published in September.

Winter Trees

And finally in the land of F — famous walkers. I came across this fun BBC article on walking the other day. Like the article on forests, it addresses something I’ve always felt was true and important but that doesn’t get talked about very much, the benefits of “purposeless walking.” It makes so much sense that a lot of great thinkers and artists were avid walkers. The article lists a number of them and describes some of the ways in which they found walking “just to walk” so valuable. Give it a look if you’re at all interested in this sort of thing.

Before I wrap up, I should note that the idea of stringing together a series of unrelated-in-the-big-picture-but-connected-in-my-world things with a letter comes from Barefoot Rooster, who used to do it all the time . . . back when she blogged. Sigh. I miss you, Barefoot Rooster.

Thursday 4

Hello, Knitting People!

I hope everyone is doing okay out there. I’m grading end-of-term papers and getting ready for my trip to Texas. On the knitting front, I’m making slow progress on the border of the Travel Shawl.

It was warm enough outside today to sit on the porch and knit for awhile.

Travel Shawl

I’ve also been keeping up with the Scrap Yarn Sock Advent Calendar knit along. Here’s where we are so far.

Dec 10 web

Dec 9 v2 web

The top bar of the second sock, the part that looks like it says “POOP,” is actually “Woof,” written out in runes. We got to pick our word, and I thought “Woof” seemed like a fun one because, you know . . . dogs. Anyhoo, after I finished I realized it looked like it spelled poop. Shoot.

I really love a fun knit along. I’ve mentioned the Lattes and Llamas Geek-A-Long before. Some of the squares on the 2014 and 2015 blankets were absolutely inspired. I also love the idea of doing a double-knit blanket which is what you end up with if you do the Geek-A-Long squares.

The theme for the 2016 Geek-A-Long was revealed today in the Ravelry group. It turns out it’s going to be video games, from classic to modern. This actually seems less interesting to me than the 2014 theme, Fandom, or the 2015 theme, Mad Scientists. But Dr Llama says it will be “the most visually dynamic blanket” they’ve done yet. If that’s true, it will be one awesome blanket. I’m so tempted!

I also got a card in the mail this week for the Rowan Martin Storey Knit Along for 2016. It’s starting on January 28 and runs through the end of May. I’ve seen some pics of the 2014 blanket, and it’s really gorgeous, something that seems like it would have been fun to knit and wonderful to keep and use and use and use.

It’s funny—I love blankets. Love having them, love using them, love thinking about them, love working on them… The only problem is that, so far, I’ve never actually finished one! I think one of my goals for 2016 will be to start and finish a blanket. We’ll see.

Other interesting knitting news . . .

Have you heard about Chanel? Two of their team apparently visited Fair Isle and spent time with a Scottish designer named Mati Ventrillon. They claimed to be interested in learning more about the Fair Isle tradition. A few months later, a sweater almost identical to Ventrillon’s showed up on the catwalk in Rome as one of Chanel’s new designs. Not cool. Chanel has apologized. Still…

Also, if you haven’t read Gregory Patrick’s “The Time I Was Questioned By Police for Knitting in a Starbucks,” be sure to check it out. It’s a great story, and as someone who used to be a police officer, I can say that it doesn’t surprise me one bit.

Ta-da! 4

FO 1 web

The birthday scarf is off the needles, and I love it! The pattern is pretty without being fussy which is very much my mom’s style. I can’t wait to give it to her next week. 

FO 4 web

This is the most enjoyable thing I’ve knit in quite a while. The pattern is Windy City Knits Lace Shawl by Angela Walker.

There is enough variation in each row so that you have to pay a little bit of attention, but the pattern is easy to memorize. I knit on it while doing all kinds of other things including reading, and it was much nicer than something plain like stockinette or rows and rows of garter stitch. 

FO 7 web

FO 5 web

I will definitely be making more of these!

FO 9 web

‘Round Here 3

Birthday Shawl Cast On

I’m on a mission. My mom has a big birthday coming up on December 15th, and I spent so long trying to decide what to do for a gift that I backed myself into a knitting corner. I’ve given her a couple of knitted gifts recently, so I was thinking it might be better to buy her a gift. I looked and thought and asked friends for suggestions and thought some more and finally realized the day before yesterday that nothing would feel right but a handmade gift.

Luckily, I had this gorgeous yarn in my stash. It’s David Simpson’s Green Dragon Sport (thank you, Cari!!!) in a colorway my mom will love. It’s called  “Paprika,” and that’s just what it looks like. It’s a variegated dark orange that takes on an almost brownish cast in the right light.

I’ve had my eye on this scarf pattern for awhile, and I think it will be perfect.

So yesterday, I cast on and got down to business.

Birthday Shawl

Birthday Shawl 2

It’s going along fairly quickly, and the further I get, the more sure I am that this was the right call. Hopefully, when my mom wears it, she’ll know I was thinking of her and knitting love into every single stitch. That prospect makes me really happy.

The Travel Shawl is on hold for now—at first because I ran out of yarn but now because all knitting is birthday scarf knitting. The only thing left to do on it is the border, and I got the yarn for that today. I’m actually hoping to get back to it in time to finish before my trip to Texas. I’d love to take it with me and try it out!

The only knitting I’m doing that doesn’t have to do with my mom’s birthday present is the scrap yarn sock for the Scrap Yarn Sock Advent Calendar KAL. Here are my scraps.

Sock Scraps

We’re working the number of rows that correspond to the date and alternating back and forth between socks. Here’s today’s knitting. We did four rows using the color that corresponded to the year we joined Ravelry. I joined in 2011, so my color was green.

Dec 4 scrap sock

That’s about it. The weather has mostly looked like this.


Which as led me to things like this.

Baileys Cake

And whipped cream, which I acknowledge but can’t bring myself to photograph for posterity.

Wrapping Up 4

Not a lot to report today. I finished up a pair of stripey socks last night.

Capacitor 1

Dulce did a careful inspection and said they were satisfactory.

Capacitor 2

I’ve also been knitting on the Travel Shawl. Here’s a little section of the middle. It’s not going to look like much until I can get it off the needles and spread it out, but I like the pattern a lot.

Travel Shawl

The knitting has all happened on breaks from paper grading this weekend. The course I’m teaching this term is fairly small, but even with just a handful of students, there have been a couple who have blown my mind. One student is a disabled veteran with brain trauma. Just before I met with him earlier this week, he’d learned he has three tumors on his spine. This student has been working hard, harder than most because of the particular challenges he faces. And now he’s got this devastating diagnosis to make sense of. I asked him if he wanted to take an incomplete in the course and come back to it once he’s got his medical situation figured out, and he told me no—he needs the course to move forward with a plan he has for working with other disabled vets, and he doesn’t want to quit just because he’s got turmoil happening in his own life. Wow.

Another student is stationed in Korea where he does his Army thing and bides his time. And gardens. I was going through responses to last week’s discussion questions and happened upon his account of why the Army “isn’t all that bad.” He explains that he has on-post housing with a garden. He loves this garden and talks about it as “an incredible ecosystem with all of life’s greatest drama from death and deceit, to passion and incredible devotion.” He talks about how he witnesses “complex emotional concepts physically happening” right there in his little plot of earth. He worries about pollution. He follows the life cycle of grass hoppers. Absolutely fascinating.

Teaching composition can be tedious at times, but students like these make it worth it.

Hope you’ve had a good weekend where you are. I’m about ready to wrap mine up with a glass of wine, some Travel Shawl knitting, and this week’s episode of Homeland. Lola’s got a crush on Mandy Patinkin, so we can’t be late tuning in.


Counting My Blessings 2


My back hurts. A lot. It feels like someone ripped the muscle away from the spine and back-of-the-ribs on the right side. I mention this because it’s pretty much all I can think about at the moment, but I want to do a blog post anyway . . . so we don’t get behind. Please forgive any wandering thoughts. Because pain killers.

Here’s the news from my corner of the world.

Pictured above is the first 100% unexpected, mouth agape, knock-me-over-with-a-feather, surprise birthday present I’ve gotten in a long, long time. This is such a nice gift I felt badly about accepting it for about one nanosecond. Then the needle lust took over.

Do you know about Signature needles? They are like little knitting magic wands. The tips are exactly the right amount of pointiness, the needle surface produces exactly the right amount of friction against the yarn, the cables on these circulars (which rotate freely at the needle!) are so flexible it’s like they aren’t even there, and the join . . . what join? Close your eyes. You can’t even feel it.

I’ve wanted a pair of Signature needles for a very long time, but I would never get them for myself, and none of the big time gift givers in my life understand knitting well enough to know that these needles are THE GIFT. Last weekend, though, I saw my dear friend P—(she appears here pretty regularly—I need to ask her if it’s okay for me to use her actual name)—and P handed me a birthday present that turned out to be these needles.

To say I love them is putting it mildly.

I spent a day picking a pattern worthy of them. Sunday, I cast on Veronik Avery’s Travel Shawl.

Travel Shawl CO

K3tog? Hah! These needles scoff at your k3tog. I keep expected to find myself knitting 17 together by accident. Magic, I tell you. Pure magic.

For my Travel Shawl, I’m using the same Peace Fleece DK sport I used for the Calligraphy cardigan. My original plan was to rip back the cardigan and use that yarn since my gauge issues gave Calligraphy a less-than-ideal fit. I’ve started with fresh yarn, though, and I’m enjoying it, so I just might continue with it.

Travel Shawl CO 2

This is a great pattern, and these needles make it such a pleasure to knit. If I were to just knit this pattern with these needles until the end of time, that might actually be okay.

Other news . . .

At the Knotty Ladies Retreat last weekend, in addition to the wonderful camaraderie, there were these mitts from Spinfoolish. Actually, Spinfooish had a whole basketful of drool worthy mitts, but these jumped onto my hands and refused to leave.


I have worn them every day this week until today when it was finally warmish. Besides being a great pattern that fits well and looks even better, these are hand knit from my friend Dorothea’s handspun yarn. I think Dorothea herself knit (knitted?) them although it might have been her incomparable mother, “Mummy” to Dorothea and wannabe-Mummy’s-children like myself.

These mitts are instant happiness. From the moment I put them on, I’m warm—inside, outside, all the sides are warm.

The other thing that I absolutely could not leave without on Saturday was this red yarn from Good Fibrations. This red. Oh dear angels of color inspiration, you have outdone yourselves with this red. As I’m looking at it now, the gloriousness of this red is *almost* enough to take my mind off the pain in my back. I swear—it resonates beyond the reach of normal color. I want to gently part the strands and sink into the center of this luscious hank of red. Seriously, there are no words for this red.

Burning Embers

And finally, guess what! After waiting for nearly two years, I’ve made it into the Hello Yarn Fiber Club. I got the invitation yesterday! I’m beginning to  think my sore back might be a blessing. Without it, I’d probably explode from all the fibery good fortune.

So that’s it for now. I’ll be back in a couple of days with more Travel Shawl. In the meantime be well, my knitters!